On Monday, Nov. 4, a community education teacher Rolf Westgard, wrote an opinion piece minimizing the impacts and presence of climate change “UN Climate Conference Ignores Facts.” For someone like myself who works daily in this field, Mr. Westgard’s omissions of fact are obvious. For instance, he claims that there has been no global warming in 15 years. However, to make this claim, he has to ignore warming at the north and south poles (where the Earth is heating fastest) and in the oceans which cover approximately 70 percent of the planet. In fact, Mr. Westgard ignored approximately 95 percent of the Earth system to arrive at his claim.
Secondly, while Mr. Westgard correctly claimed that increasing CO2 can fertilize plants, he neglected to mention that the advantage is counteracted by changes in precipitation, increased temperatures, and lack of other nutrients that plants need.
I study climate warming for a living. My colleagues at the University of Minnesota are experts in the impacts of carbon dioxide on plant growth. For us, these errors of omission are clear and serious. Downplaying the presence and consequences of climate change, based on incorrect knowledge, will result in significant future economic costs.
Let’s take this change now to build a new energy economy based on clean fuels developed here in Minnesota. Let’s use our present energy more wisely. In the end, our climate and our pocketbooks will benefit. Who can be against that?
Dr. John Abraham
University of St. Thomas
School of Engineering